How to Choose the Right CDL Training Classes near Daleville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Daleville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Daleville home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Daleville AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Daleville AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Daleville AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Daleville AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Daleville AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Daleville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Daleville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Daleville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Daleville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Daleville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Daleville CDL Training
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Daleville Alabama.